Life as we know it

Our family adventures

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Our little punk rocker in her new shoes

We got Allie some new shoes last weekend. Converse One Stars were on clearance for 50% off. Its the only time I’d buy those shoes because these canvas shoes in toddler sizes are $25 at full price?!? That doesn’t seem worth it for canvas, but I know its for the brand. $12.50, however, was great. The peace signs are cute. Allie loves her new shoes too. We got them on Saturday and when she wasn’t wearing them on Sunday, she was carrying them around.

I took these pictures on Tuesday because with her peace sign shoes, the little spikey pony tail and the shirt she was wearing, she looked like a cute little punk rocker! And this little punk rocker is turning 2 exactly one month from today! Where has the time gone??

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How time flies

For a long time in my life, I thought I’d never get married. I never had a boyfriend. Until I started dating Doug. I met Doug on May 19, 2003, my first day of work at The Southern Illinoisan. I used to laugh at women who said they knew the moment when they met their husbands. I didn’t think it was possible. While I didn’t know he’d be my husband on May 19, 2003, I knew later that summer.

With the help of a couple friends, we started dating Jan. 20, 2005. The real start of our life together, however, was Sept. 29, 2007.

I love looking back at the pictures of that day. It was perfect. And while our life since hasn’t always been perfect, its been pretty darn close. I couldn’t imagine life any other way.

Its been four wonderful years and I’m looking forward to many many more. How time flies when you’re having fun! I love you honey! Happy anniversary!

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Goin’ out for a walk

We like to take walks when we get home from work if the weather’s nice.
On a recent sunny afternoon, Allie was very insistent that we walk!

We like this fun family time and this time even took Monk!

But we never walk too far from home because right after this picture was snapped, Allie decided she wanted “uppa,” meaning she didn’t want to walk anymore. Luckily it wasn’t too far to carry her.

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Wet morning at the zoo

Sunday morning looked like it was starting nice enough as we got up and got ready for the Zoo Run Run 10K. We were looking forward to this race because since it was at the zoo, Allie and Dada would have things to do while I was running.

Allie wore her new kitty jammies the night before and was still really excited about them… but that didn’t stop her from making a mess at breakfast!

But right as we were leaving it started to rain. And it kept raining. I had known about the chance of rain that day but thought it would be later. We drove to the race anyway because I race rain or shine… but we didn’t know what Allie and Dada would do.

As it turned out, the rain let up soon after the race started. And Allie and Dada had the zoo practically to themselves!

So Dada let Allie run around a lot.

That is, until she decided she didn’t want to listen to Dada anymore. Then it was time to go back in the stroller. But by that time it was time to see Mama run to the finish!

Seeing Allie and Dada so close to the finish made me go that much faster! And it was so fun seeing Allie’s reaction as I ran by. In spite of the rain and a lingering chest cold, Mama finished in 1:06:30, an almost-PR! The full race report can be found over in My Marathon Journey.
Then it was home for Allie to take a much-needed nap (she almost fell asleep in the car! She never does that!) and for Mama and Dada to spend a rainy afternoon watching football.

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Happy with a near-PR performance

Sunday morning it rained! I had seen the forecast on Saturday but it had seemed like any rain would come after the race. Well, it rained plenty after the race, but started before!
We were looking forward to this race because unlike other races, Doug and Allie could walk around the zoo and actually be entertained while I run. I’ve wanted to run this race for a few years but always had conflicts. I wanted to run because I liked the name and also because I like the zoo and want to support it!
So the rain was starting as we were leaving the house close to on schedule at 8:50. We knew we had to get to the race early because parking around the zoo is really hard. We actually found a pretty good spot on a street just over a hill from the zoo. But it was pouring. I went into the zoo to get my race materials and then back out to the car where I decided the shirt I was wearing wouldn’t be good when it got wet, so I did something I’d never done before… I changed into the race shirt! But I decided to wear my jacket over it.
It was still raining, though not as heavy. Doug wasn’t going to move the car and Allie wasn’t going to stay in the car quietly. So we all got out and headed into the zoo. Doug and Allie were going to hang out under the race registration tent. I headed out to the start and soon after the start the rain let up so Doug and Allie had the run of the zoo! Pictures can be found in Quest for the New Normal.
This route was the arb loop backwards from how I usually run it, and starting and ending at the zoo. I need to run this direction more often because none of the hills are as bad going that way! It was nice racing a route I was so familiar with. In 10Ks, it just gets so long to me around mile 4 or so and on this route it was nice to have a good idea of how much further I really had to go. Though it was still difficult when at mile 5 I could already hear the announcements at the finish!
In addition to the rain, I also still had the remnants of a chest cold. I was finally breathing more normally on Sunday morning, but that came and went when the congestion was moving around. As a result I was doing plenty of coughing and hacking while running. With the cold in mind I had consdered switching to the 5K but I decided to stick with the 10K and decide when I started if I’d try for the PR or just run, based on how I felt.
I started out so fast! I really felt pretty good considering how I’d been. Only 1 mile had a split over 11 minutes… 11:01 for mile 3. I was struggling in this mile wondering how long I could keep up the pace I was running. Near the end of mile 3 also was the only hill I struggled on, maybe just because I was getting so winded.
So I was going up this hill approaching the turn before heading into the arb and I bargained with myself that I’d get up the hill and turn the corner before I stopped to walk. Then I decided I’d wait until I turned the next corner into the arb and passed the mile marker. Then I got second wind and didn’t feel like I needed to stop anymore! I only walked through the second water stop at about 3.5, and that was for less than 30 seconds. As I was running through the arb I tried to pull back a little bit when going down the slight hills to recover. That method worked well!
I have my garmin set to show my mile splits. I could have pressed some buttons to see where my overall time was and maybe I could have picked up the pace a bit. I saw the clock at the finish and I was a little diappointed to see that it was already past 1:06. My PR is still 1:05:40. But I just found my official time this morning and that was 1:06:30, which is my second best 10K ever! I’ve only run 5 10Ks total. And this was my second in under 1:10.
So officially less than a minute off my PR! Now my dilemma is if I want to find another 10K to try for that PR. I am planning on running the Berbee Derby on Thanksgiving, but that one has a gigantic hill at the end. So I know I won’t PR in that one. There’s a 10K I know of the weekend before my half marathon, but I don’t think it would be a good idea to go for a PR the week before my big race. The other race I like to run in October for the Literacy Network is on a weekend when we have other plans so that won’t work. So more than likely, I’ll have to wait until next year to break that PR. But hopefully by then I’ll be even faster!


Traditional beef stew

I’ve been looking for a traditional beef stew recipe for a long time. I wanted one that I could make in the crock pot. I have a recipe I’ve made a few times for tuscan beef stew, but it had beans instead of potatoes, which I don’t mind, but its a really thin broth. I wanted the traditional thick stew. I found it in this recipe.

This recipe isn’t made for the crock pot, but I think I could adapt it to the crock pot. Every recipe I’d find, including this one, takes like three hours on the stove top. But since we had a lazy Sunday afternoon in store, I didn’t mind taking the time to simmer it three hours. Totally worth the time.

Putting it all together in the pot, the ingredients seemed somewhat illogical. But this was the first time I’ve made real beef stew, so I didn’t know what the ingredients really were. One of those ingredients is allspice, which I don’t really care for. At first as it was cooking, the allspice was all I could smell, so I was skeptical.

But as the afternoon continued, it smelled oh-so-good. I snuck tastes of the meat and it got better and better as it got more tender and absorbed the flavors. As the simmering time was nearing completion, I was disappointed to realize too late that we hadn’t bought any bread and didn’t have time left to make some! Next time.

It simmered on the stove an hour and a half and then you put in the vegetables, potatoes and carrots. At this point it seemed like there wasn’t enough broth. I was a bit concerned about the cooking time so I turned up the burner a little bit. That wasn’t a great idea. It cooked away all the broth! Not only that, it turned the potatoes to mush.

The last step is to mix flour with some cold water and stir it into the stew to thicken it up. I ended up also putting in another cup of water. I probably could have put in two cups. Between the potato mush and the flour mixture, the stew was plenty thick! Luckily even though I had to put in extra water, it still tasted amazing. No pictures though!

I will definitely make this stew again. Preferably a double batch. I don’t know if it was just because it got so thick or because it was a small recipe, but we didn’t have much left over. Its supposed to be even better left over. We’ll find out when we take it in our lunches tomorrow! Stew meat is expensive though so if I were to make a double batch it would have to be with three pounds of meat instead of four. And next time I won’t turn up the heat and I’ll remember bread!

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Good luck for the Pack

So one day this summer, my mom found two toddler Packer’s shirts in a bag on their porch. She didn’t know where they came from and thought perhaps someone meant to leave them at someone else’s house… but since she didn’t know who left them, she couldn’t find out! So she gave them to Allie! Its fall here now and the Packers were playing the Bears yesterday, so it was a perfect day for Allie to don her new Packers gear. It must have been good luck because they won!

She is such a ham. I try to take candid pictures, but she always senses (or hears) when I’m about to take a picture and she turns around and poses.

It was a nice day watching football together yesterday. Allie was in her element as were the rest of us. Mama ran the Zoo Run Run 10K yesterday morning and we were all happy to have a lazy afternoon after that.

On Saturday we bought some Halloween decorations. We’re waiting until its actually October to put them up, but we let Allie keep her new bucket. She loves that bucket! Its a jack-o-lantern that she’ll use if she goes trick-or-treating. We won’t really trick-or-treat, but there is a Halloween event at the zoo we want to go to.

It was rainy and cold outside, but since we were inside, Allie was comfy in short pants and flip flops. She loves those flip flops.

Here she is being a ham again!

Dada’s already teaching her the finer points of football. She did actually sit next to him for awhile and seemed like she was watching.

I have plenty of things to write about and pictures to post, but while I don’t normally get stressed out… the past few weeks I’ve been stressed out! We’ve been crazy busy the last few weeks and its not really slowing down anytime soon. I know there are a few readers out there though, and I’ll try my best to be a bit more regular with posting!